At the Wine Outlet, we never shy away from days that celebrate wine, and, coming off the heels of National Rosé Day, why not make it international? Happy International Rosé Day 2020! Here, we want to focus on a diversity of rosés that can challenge a category of wine that sometimes is seen as monolithic or one dimensional. While rosés are often drunk young, usually are inexpensive, and rarely are aged, these crisp summer-associated wines are produced all over the world with a dizzying number of grapes, winemaking techniques, and climate influences. For this International Rosé Day, we are going to analyze some French rosés from three different regions, and these wines show that rosé not only is diverse in its structure and flavor profiles, but also that it can appeal to red and white wine drinkers alike. As always, links this rosé collection are available below, and pick your most convenient Wine Outlet location to grab these features bottles.
A Quick Word on International Rosé Day
Like National Rosé Day, this International Rosé celebration is a recent one with Valerie Rouselle of Chateau Roubine and Chateau Saint Beatrice creating the observance and overseeing body: The Organisation International du Rosé. Bearing in mind that this wine holiday was a recent French-created celebration, we look forward to bringing to light some of our favorite French rosés at the Wine Outlet. So, let’s start up North in the Loire Valley and move our way down to the Mediterranean.
Rosé From Sancerre
The Loire Valley is one of France’s higher-latitude wine areas and has a continental climate, meaning the winters tend to be pretty cold with the summers providing sunshine and heat to help ripen grapevine fruit. This variation in annual temperature allows grapes to maintain higher acidic structure from the cooler spring and fall months, with the summer (usually) providing enough warmth for sufficient grape ripening. The climate and soil types of this region are highly conducive to growing Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc for white wine and Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir for red wines (among other varieties). Sancerre is a region of the Eastern Loire Valley that is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, probably appearing on the wines by the glass list at your favorite restaurant. These Sauvignon Blancs are often lean with high acidity, citrus aromas, and flinty notes. Sauvignon Blanc makes up about 80% of wine production in Sancerre, but let’s move to the main star of our first Rosé: Pinot Noir.
Wine map of the Loire Valley from Wine Folly: https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/sancerre-the-ultimate-french-sauvignon-blanc/
The remaining wine production in Sancerre is composed of Pinot Noir, and this grape is also the fruit source for Sancerre rosé. We’ve touched on the winemaking techniques that are necessary for crafting Rosé in another blog post, but as a quick refresher, Rosé is made from red grapes. What gives red wine its color is how the skins are macerated (mixed/soaked with the grape juice) and color and tannin is extracted out of the skins of the red grapes. Not only do the grape skins themselves influence the color of the wine (thick skinned grapes like Tannat, Petite Verdot, and Syrah generally impart more color into the wine while thinner skinned grapes like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Grenache impart less color and tannin into the wine) but the temperature at which the grape juice interacts with the skins is important. Think about this similarly to tea. Certain teas themselves will impart more flavor, color, and tannin (yes tea is relatively high in tannin), but if your kettle is boiling hot, then the water will extract even more elements out of the tea leaves. Also, like tea, the longer the grape skins mix with the juice, the more extraction occurs from the grape skins. In red wines, this time frame can be anywhere from a few days to months, while for rosé this occurs usually between just a few hours and one day. These temperatures, grapes, and time in maceration allow for nearly any shade of pink in our rosés. In this way, rosé can be a dynamic style of wine that should not be lumped into a homogenous category but instead appreciated for the winemaking involved and the grapes that are used similarly to red wines.
The greater the maceration (soaking) time, the greater color extraction. From Wine Folly: https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/many-different-shades-of-rose-wine/
The first wine we want to highlight is Andre Neveu’s 2019 “Le Grand Fricambault” Sancerre Rosé. André Neveu is a seventh-generation winemaker who, along with his son-in-law, Thomas, makes some of the most expressive Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the prestigious area of Chavignol in Sancerre. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, André describes his Rosé as having “incomparable color, fruity and refreshing. This is a summer wine.” André makes his rosé through the bleeding or Saignée method. In short, André puts Pinot Noir juice and skins into a temperature regulated steel tank for fermentation intending to make red wine. After a short period of the skins and juice getting to know each other in the vessel, some of the pink juice is taken out of the tank, allowing for greater extraction of color for the remaining juice and skins in the tank for the red wine. What results in the rosé is a darker color through this ‘bleeding’ method than one might expect. This Pinot Noir based rosé then gains more red fruit flavors and slightly higher tannin levels than some other non-bleeding method rosés. This is a Pinot Noir drinker’s Rosé. André notes, “The attack is round and supple. The center of the mouth has volume. Overall, it is soft and well-balanced by a touch of tannin at the finish. The lingering finish shows spicy notes of pepper and thyme.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Strawberries and cherries are also very detectable in this wine, and its high acid makes it a great companion to shellfish, chicken dishes, or on its own as an aperitif.
The town of Chavignol, France. From https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chavignol
Rosé From The Southern Rhone Valley
Now, let’s leave some of the more northern wine regions of France and head closer to the Mediterranean. Starting in the Southern Rhone Valley, we turn our focus to region called Vacqueyras for Domaine de la Verde’s 2019 “Royal Sunset” Rosé. In this area of France and in this wine, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre, and other varieties such as Cinsault are commonly blended together to form red wines in this warmer climate region. This rosé is fermented at a lower temperature than the Sancerre Rosé, and, even though some of the grapes in the blend can be darker in red wines, this cool temperature maceration causes the resulting wine to be a lighter shade of pink. Additionally, the wine is very lean, as the Royal Sunset retains crisp primary flavors of strawberry, peach, pear, and cherry. Domaine de la Verde actually provides a recipe for risotto with scallops as a perfect pairing, but this wine is incredibly versatile when it comes to food. Try it with some summer BBQ!
Domaine de la Verde vines in Vacqueyras from http://www.charlesnealselections.com/domaine-de-la-verde.html
Rosé From Provence
Moving further south, we enter the epicenter of French rosé: Provence. Over 80% of the wine produced in Provence is rosé, and rosé recently eclipsed white wine as the second most consumed style of wine in France behind red wine. Provence is a very large area of wine production, and there is an abundance of different red, white, and rosé wines from subregions of Provence; however, here, let’s focus on Domaine de la Navarre’s 2019 “Sacrifice” Rosé from the Cotes de Provence. Like Domaine de la Verde’s Royal Sunset Rosé, the 2019 Sacrifice Rosé is also fermented at low temperatures, leading to less color extraction than even Andre Neveu’s thinner skinned Pinot Noir rosé from Sancerre. Also, like the Royal Sunset, Sacrifice is composed of Grenache and Mourvédre, but it has the addition of the grape Tibouren to this blend. Tibouren is not widely planted, but it is often used as a blending grape for rosé from Provence. According to wine writer Jancis Robinson, the grape often adds an earthy and herbal character to rosé blends. This can help a pink wine from Southern France have an added layer of complexity with notes that start to stray away from strictly fruit oriented flavors. While still fruit forward, the 2019 Sacrifice Rosé offers a great pairing for olive tapenade, marinated fish, and charcuterie reflecting some of the more savory components of the wine.
Wine map of Provence from Wine Folly: https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/provence-wine-region-guide-with-maps/
These three Rosés represent only an introduction to the diversity of styles and flavor profiles that rosés can have, and for this International Rosé Day, we hope you can try these delicious pink wines outside and with friends. As noted, this collection is linked below, and give our store managers a call with any questions you might have!